Carlo Ancelotti’s experience in Napoli may be set to end abruptly as the events following his players’ mutiny against president Aurelio De Laurentiis continue to unfold. Dark clouds gathered over the Azzurri roster last night as captain Lorenzo Insigne and his teammates refused to remain at a training retreat imposed by the club after tying 1-1 against Red Bull Salzburg.
For almost one hour, Inter lived the dream of breaking the curse of the Camp Nou, then Luis Suarez’s brilliant double plummeted them into a recurring nightmare. Inter’s second Champions League match in Group F ended 2-1 for the Blaugrana despite Lautaro Martinez’s opener after two minutes. It was the first goal for the Nerazzurri in Barcelona’s den in 50 years.
Seven is a charm for Jurgen Klopp. The German coach finally clinched a European Cup title leading Liverpool to a 2-0 win over Tottenham to conquer the Champions League 2018-19, and breaking a curse made of six international Final losses. Liverpool took a rapid lead with a penalty by Mohammed Salah, and controlled the game until Divock Origi’s late goal.
Maurizio Sarri came, saw, and won. The former Napoli coach led Chelsea to their first Europa League title, seeing off Arsenal in the Final in Baku with a storming second half. Eden Hazard scored a brace in what was likely his last match with the Blues, and goals by Jean Giroud and Pedro Rodriguez wrapped a comfortable 4-1 success against Unai Emery’s side.
It happened again. Yet another last minute comeback, to further embellish a Champions League edition that could arguably end up being the most exciting ever. This time, it was Tottenham’s turn to pull out the most incredible of victories, stunning Ajax with a shocking 2-3 late win that projected them straight into their first Champions League Final in their history.
Mohammed Salah’s t-shirt was prophetical. “Never Give Up,” it read. Liverpool wrote another page of a history made of impossible comebacks as they trashed Barcelona to reach the Champions League Final once again. The scorecard at Anfield Road read 4-0 at full time, an outcome that completely overturned what happened at the Camp Nou one week ago.
Ajax don’t want to stop. The white-and-red won 1-0 in London over Tottenham, and can now legitimately aim at reaching the Champions League Final for the first time in 23 years. A lone goal by midfielder Donny van de Beek stunned the Tottenham Stadium and the Semifinal debuting Spurs to secure his side a strong advantage in view of next Wednesday’s second leg.
Juventus’ Champions League Curse continues. The Bianconeri ended their run in the elite European competition once again in the Quarter Finals, demolished by a magnificent Ajax. Coach Erik ten Hag’s squad raided the Allianz Stadium, snatched an epic 2-1 win, and progressed 3-2 on aggregate to show their face among the Top Four after 22 years.
Last Thursday, the draw for the Champions League 2018-19 Group Stage took place. It was the day every fan had been waiting for since last May’s Real Madrid win over Liverpool 3-1 in the Final in Kiev. This year, the title of “Group of Death” went to Group C, which will feature Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Liverpool, and Red Star Belgrade.
What a start, gentlemen! What a game! The European football season officially kicked off yesterday with a new edition of El Derbi Madrileño between Real and Atlètico. The Colchoneros stunned their more famous city rivals and incumbent Champions League title holders, prevailing 4-2 after extra time to capture the UEFA Super Cup 2018.
All Roma fans could hope for yesterday was an entertaining match, conscious that coming back from three goals should be an exception, not the rule. Still, the Giallorossi went as close as possible to another sensational comeback, prevailing over Liverpool 4-2 in the second leg of a Champions League Semifinal. The Reds advanced on a 7-6 aggregate score, but Roma left the Stadio Olimpico with their heads held high.
Liverpool had to score five times, led by a sumptuous Mohammed Salah, before Roma finally woke up and remembered they were playing a Champions League semifinal at Anfield Road. Late goals by Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti saved the Giallorossi’s face, leaving a feeble qualification hope alive, but it will take another remuntada for Eusebio Di Francesco to come back from last night’s 2-5.